LEBANON: NEW GOVERNMENT, SAME OLD STORY?


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The ongoing protests against lack of jobs, a decaying economy, and government corruption that began on 17 October last year, and forced its Prime Minister Saad Hariri to resign, continues.
Despite the announcement by Hassan Diab, the new Prime Minister, of his appointing 20 new ministers whom he vowed to work with to solve protesters’ complaints, it did little to quell the long-simmering anger as thousands continue to occupy streets across the country.
Protesters criticized the people Diab selected as cronies from the same political parties that are responsible for creating the crisis, and they demand a government run by independent officials.
On Sunday, thousands demonstrated outside government headquarters in Beirut and attempted to break through a protective barricade. They were pushed back by the government’s Internal Security Forces, who then used water cannons and tear gas to force them to leave the area entirely.
In response to the bank liquidity crisis reported in last week’s Trends Journal, as thousands of Lebanese citizens were restricted to withdrawing only small amounts of their own money, the Central Bank of Lebanon promised last week to provide more currency.
The banks reportedly are transmitting over $300 million in banknotes every month in an effort to help the crisis. But the new Finance Minister stated the country had to get foreign aid in order to rectify the crisis where people had to “beg for dollars” at banks.
Last Wednesday, the Association of Banks in Lebanon said it hopes the new government “will have a positive impact on the general conditions in the country, paving the way for the return of stability.”
TREND FORECAST: Plummeting confidence in the country’s banking sector will continue to fuel inflation. Poverty will deepen and living standards will deeply decline as faith in the economy falters and businesses close down. The worse economic conditions get, the more violent the protests will become and the harder the governments will clamp down on them.

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